Rematch will yield different result

Published 5:49 pm Friday, December 4, 2009

Saturday’s Southeastern Conference Championship Game could be the most significant contest in league history.

Two unbeaten teams ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the BCS standings, squaring off in a rematch from last year and vying for a chance to become the fourth consecutive national champion to come from the SEC.

If that weren’t enough, then we can look at the personalities that will make this game even more interesting. Florida’s Urban Meyer and Alabama’s Nick Saban are widely considered two of the country’s top coaches. Meyer is shooting for his third national title in four years, and Saban is trying to become the first coach to win national championships with two different FBS (formerly Division I-A) schools.

And, lest we forget, there is Tim Tebow, the Florida quarterback who could cement his legacy as the greatest college football player ever with a win over Alabama and then in the National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 7.

But Tebow this season hasn’t always been Tebow-like. Even with a loss to Ole Miss, Florida last season outscored conference foes 45-13 (compared to Alabama, at 32-14). This year, Florida’s average score is 28-12 (compared to Alabama’s 26-11).

Basically, the two teams have won games this season at an almost identical clip, whereas Florida was two touchdowns better during the 2008 regular season.

So, look for this one to come down to the fourth quarter—to a game-winning drive or a game-winning defensive stop.

It would seem obvious to pick Florida because of Tebow, but Alabama has actually been the better team in the fourth quarter this season (outscoring opponents 102-24 compared to 91-27 for Florida).

The Crimson Tide has been waiting for this rematch for a year now, and it’s hard to imagine the Gators are as hungry after winning last year’s title.

Pick: Alabama 22, Florida 21.